Netherlands - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.

Last published date: 2021-11-09

The Netherlands is a geographically small (approximately the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts combined), densely populated (17 million people) country occupying a highly strategic commercial location. Over 170 million consumers (more than one-third of the population of the European Union) reside within a 300-mile radius of the Netherlands. The country is a key center within the global business network, with advanced infrastructure geared towards the transportation of goods, people, and data. Its core distribution points include Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the fourth largest airport in Europe for cargo. The country has capitalized on its location and advanced economy to become one of the top trading nations in the world. The Netherlands is the seventeenth largest economy in the world and the fifth largest in the European Monetary Union (the Eurozone), with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $912 billion in 2020.

The United States and the Netherlands have a strong bilateral relationship, based on close historical, cultural, and commercial ties. The relationship dates back to the American Revolution and is one of the United States’ oldest, continuous bilateral relationships. The United States is the largest foreign investor in the Netherlands, and has its second largest trade surplus ($17.9 billion in 2020) with the Netherlands.  

The Netherlands is consistently recognized as having one of the best business climates by various international surveys. The 2019 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index ranked the Netherlands as fourth among the world’s most competitive economies – Forbes ranked the Netherlands fourth on their 2019 Best Countries for Business list. Note that neither list was updated in 2020.

Top five reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to the Netherlands:

  • The ideal European starting point for new-to-export companies looking for their first European distributor.
  • An affluent, U.S.-friendly population with a high regard for U.S. products and the highest level of English-language fluency on the continent.
  • An innovative business community hungry for new, high-quality products.
  • The most advanced logistics and distribution network in Europe.
  • Strong links to the rest of Europe and beyond.

The Dutch economy shrank by 3.7 percent in 2020 as a result of the ongoing
global health crisis. The decrease was lower than in other countries in the region (Belgium, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom). The CBP Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis’ September 2021 macroeconomic outlook predicted GDP growth of 3.9 percent in 2021 and 3.5 percent in 2022. GDP is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels this year. The CBP has stressed that although the Dutch economy is recovering quickly, COVID-19 will continue to affect certain sectors of the Dutch economy in the short-term and perhaps even permanently.